This isn’t one of those sweet, fuzzy, Christian articles about fasting. Instead, it’s more like an inoculation shot. Painful at first, but good for you in the end. So here goes . . .
You decided to fast. And you set your mind on using the Daniel Fast as your method of fasting. Then you got started. You learned about what you could and couldn’t eat. You started trying to change your schedule so you could pray more. And before you knew it you found yourself feeling discouraged, overwhelmed and ready to quit!
What did you expect? Did you expect that fasting for 21 consecutive days would be easy? Like falling off a log? Like a walk in the park? Did you expect that you would just sail through and not meet any rough waters?
So many Christians are shocked when they start the Daniel Fast and then face obstacles. Shock of shocks! Fasting requires that we change. We can’t eat the same foods. Horror of horrors. We only get to drink water! How will you ever survive?
And what about time, you may be lamenting? How can I spend time with God and still do all the other things I already have planned for my life? I’m a busy person. I never have enough time, let alone 30 minutes a day to spend with God.
This is where a lot of people break. The obstacles are too much and so they quit. Fasting is just too hard. Maybe you’re close to this breaking point. Maybe you already quit.
But again I ask, “Did you expect this spiritual journey to be easy?”
Okay, before you start getting really angry with me, let me say this: I understand about being busy. And I’m not diminishing the challenges of changing the way you eat or restricting your beverages to water only. I too really miss my morning coffee when I fast. And I too am challenged. So I get that part.
The point I want to raise and that I hope you will consider is this: were you expecting entering into a spiritual experience with your God that has all the potential to change your life and bring the transformation you’ve been longing for . . . did you expect it to be an easy path?
We live in the culture of “quick and easy.” And if either of those don’t happen, we get frustrated. We complain. And then we quit! We shift into the role of the defeated instead of seeing things through, getting stronger and realizing success and victory.
Christians, we are better than that! We are called to be better than that. We are the overcomers. We are the ones who have victory with Christ. We are the ones who fight the good fight of faith. And we are the ones who have the same God who parted the Red Sea, who tore down the walls surrounding Jericho, and who raised Jesus from the dead. He is living inside of us!
We are equipped. We have tools. We have hope. We have the power of God. And these are all there so when we do face challenges and obstacles that we can reach the victory that our Lord wants us to have.
Maybe you’ve heard me talk about my experience on el Camino de Santiago. It’s a 500-mile pilgrimage across northern Spain that I walked in 2011. Imagine it. Up the Pyrenees Mountains . . . and back down. Walking across open plains in 100 degree temperatures. Thirty-seven days of walking day after day. Up early in the morning walking 13-20 miles before reaching the hostel where I would sleep for the night to rest up for the next day of the same walking step-by-step so I could get to Santiago.
I can tell you, there were more times than I can count when I was tempted to quit. Walking 500 miles isn’t an easy trek. Lots of pain. Sweat. And even some tears. Grueling. Challenging. And one of the most rewarding and most enjoyable experiences of my entire life!
My heart gushed with thanksgiving and joy the day I walked into Santiago. I made it from the beginning of my journey all the way to the finish. And all along the way God gave me insights, blessings, surprises, lessons, and gifts that I never expected.
Please don’t think I am lifting myself up as a poster child for success. It’s just that my Camino experience is so similar to the spiritual journey you are now on.
What if I had given into the temptation? What if I had quit? What if I didn’t fight through the challenges?
I would have missed out. The blessings and the lessons and all the walking that strengthened my muscles and quickened my resolve would have been out of my reach . . . because I quit. I praise God that I didn’t quit. And the lessons I learned along the way have served me in so many other areas of my life and my walk with Christ.
The same is for you. You are on a spiritual journey. There are ups. And there are downs. And it isn’t easy. But I can promise you that the rewards and the lessons and the blessings are so great that they overshadow the discomfort you may feel and the work you must complete.
That’s what fasting is about. It’s about learning and growing and receiving blessings from God that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Plus, the lessons you learn on your fast will also serve you in other areas of your life.
My hope is that you will shake off any of the discouragement or frustration you may feel. That you will realize that fasting and easy are mutually exclusive. And that you can do this. You are equipped. You have more inside of you than you realize. And your success is waiting for you to receive. Just keep walking one step at a time and you will get there.